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Sunday 16th June 2019

Cancer networks face an uncertain future

13th January 2011

Cancer networks are to be encouraged to become social enterprises under the new cancer strategy.

As well as the loss of funding to the 28 networks - which provide expert advice to commissioners - the National Cancer Action Team (NCAT) and NHS Improvement are also facing an uncertain future.

The Improving Outcomes: A strategy for Cancer Strategy paper reveals cancer networks will continue to be funded during the transition of commissioning responsibilities from PCTs to consortia.

But the report added: “Once the new commissioning arrangements are fully established it will be for consortia to determine whether to continue getting advice and support from networks or to seek such support elsewhere.”

Ciarán Devane, chief executive of Macmillan Cancer Support, has criticised the move and fears GPs would struggle to commission cancer services without the support of the networks.

All Party Parliamentary Group on Cancer chair John Baron echoed the sentiment.

He said: “The UK’s poor record on early diagnosis has got to be put right. The intention to save 5,000 lives by bringing our cancer survival rates up to the European average is a welcome first step.

“However, some questions remain including how the expertise of cancer networks can best be retained as the NHS makes the transition to GP commissioning.”

Professor Sir Mike Richards, National Director for Cancer, said that cancer networks were being funded this coming year.

But he added: “After that it’s a decision for the NHS commissioning board and for GP consortia to see what they want do.”


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